Tuesday July 11, 12 & 13
Great Yorkshire Show – 11th – showing beagles
Saturday July 15
Bishop Wilton Show & Craft Fair
Wednesday July 19
Peterborough Festival of Hunting
Thursday August 17
James Barrington: Why advocates of the Hunting Act are running scared of repeal
James Barrington: Why advocates of the Hunting Act are running scared of repeal
James Barrington is a former Executive Director of the League Against Cruel Sports. He is now an animal welfare consultant to Countryside Alliance, Council of Hunting Associations and the All Party Parliamentary Middle Way Group.
The sight of John Prescott, with his leader Jeremy Corbyn in the background, pulling a toy fox out of a sack at Labour rally and shouting, “Theresa May wants to tear this apart” showed just how ridiculous and desperate he really is.
He was cheered on by people who, it would seem, know little about dogs, even less about hunting and probably couldn’t care less about the consequences of a hunting ban.
Actually,John, no she doesn’t want to tear apart a toy fox, nor does she want to tear apart a live fox – that’s the job of the hounds, something you might have known if you’d bothered to properly understand the activity of fox hunting. But best not to let facts get in the way when trying to make a political point.
Ask Lord Prescott, Jeremy Corbyn, or indeed anyone who supports the Hunting Act what the effect this legislation has had on wildlife and you will be hard pushed to get a sensible answer.
Instead, “Animals are no longer torn apart just for fun” will be one response – and of course the opinion polls that show most people disapprove of hunting will be another. Anti-hunting groups have convinced themselves and many others that the use of dogs is always inherently cruel.
It’s a blinkered view that fails to properly understand precisely what the Conservative manifesto actually says. I know Lord Prescott sometimes has trouble with his words, so for his sake and others who haven’t read the document, let me repeat it: “We will grant a free vote, on a government bill in government time, to give parliament the opportunity to decide the future of the Hunting Act.”
In other words, an opportunity to examine how this law is working. It’s a chance to ask a crucial question at the very centre of the hunting debate: what has happened to foxes, and indeed other wildlife, since the Hunting Act came into force some 12 years ago? Surely, no one, if they are genuinely in favour of improving animal welfare, could possibly oppose such a review, no matter which side of the hunting debate they happen to stand.
Yet, the frenzied reaction from anti-hunting groups has been one of total opposition to any re-examination, with demonstrations being organised to echo the ignorant comments of Lord Prescott.
The real irony here is that if wild animal welfare has indeed been improved, as we are constantly told, it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of those opposed to hunting to present that evidence to parliament. Producing such information, regardless of the libertarian arguments and the many millions of pounds spent in support of this legislation, would effectively bring the whole debate to an end. So why won’t the anti-hunt groups do it?
The answer lies in what a friend and former colleague at the League Against Cruel Sports (and now a hunt master) told me the other day. He said that in his locality virtually all the foxes have been shot out.
The story is one that mirrors what happened shortly after the Hunting Act was passed, when tens of thousands of hares were shot on former hunting and coursing estates. The animal’s status had changed to one that was simply a target for gangs of poachers and so the easiest solution was to get rid of it. Harsh? Certainly, but that’s what happens when laws are based on prejudice or ignorance and with no consideration for the consequences.
The left like to use hunting as political weapon (even though hunting is known not to be a vote-changing issue), cynically exploiting the public’s understandable lack of knowledge of an activity that hardly touches their lives.
It is puzzling why some Conservatives play along with this game, although if they read the propaganda put out by the so-called Conservatives Against Fox Hunting (CAFH) and nothing else, it might explain their choice. The CAFH website says in response to Theresa May’s comments on fox hunting, “The party should instead be looking at improving standards for the tens of millions of farm animals by… installing CCTV in slaughterhouses. It would be a shame if we have to once again focus on this repeal issue – which is negative and nasty – when we could be putting all our energies into helping to advance farm animal welfare.”
They overlook the fact that just such a commitment, plus proposals on live exports and pet sales, is in the Conservative manifesto – important animal welfare measures, which the CAFH has helped the media overlook by concentrating on hunting.
The CAFH has strong links with the normally Labour-supporting League Against Cruel Sports, and their policies are virtually identical. The ‘founder’ of the group is a League committee member and the funding of the CAFH remained a mystery until it was recently revealed to be a group that has given thousands of pounds to the Labour Party and others opposed to the Tory Party.
Just a few months ago Conservative Central Office demanded that all official party logos be removed from CAFH literature and website, emphasising that the group does not speak for the party. Many believe that the CAFH is just the League in a different guise.
Instead of putting out misleading propaganda, it would be helpful if the CAFH, the League, and all those opposed to hunting with dogs told us what they support, rather than what they dislike.
Do they accept any form of wildlife management? If so, what methods do they advocate? Do they understand that hunting doesn’t exist in isolation and that something else will take its place? Do they think the remaining methods are more humane? How do they square the support for ‘rewilding’ with their opposition to hunting? Why are the kills by the wolf and the lynx acceptable when a kill using dogs is unacceptable? What do they have to say about the hundreds of thousands of animals shot out as a direct result of the Hunting Act? Where is the scientific evidence that underpins a hunting ban?
Many people who oppose hunting have no idea about the difference between pest control and wildlife management – the latter being more about the health and limit of the wildlife population left alive, rather than the numbers killed. The selective ability of scenting hounds to find the quarry animal and the chase, the natural way of removing the old, weak, diseased and sick animals, fits perfectly into that process.
In addition, there is no chance of wounding, as the animal is either killed or escapes unscathed. Why would such a unique method be banned, other than through ignorance or prejudice?
The reason we don’t hear answers to these questions is that it’s easy for voices to be united against hunting, but much harder to agree on what takes its place. In short, Conservative candidates are being duped, and they would do well not to commit to any position if unsure about the facts, at least until there is a proper debate on the evidence presented.
The sole reason anti-hunting groups oppose the Conservative proposal to debate the future of the Hunting Act is because any proper scrutiny of their law is likely to show that a hunting ban is detrimental to wild animal welfare. But for others, like John Prescott, all this is irrelevant; if you think a fake fox can gain you votes, why worry about the real ones?
We’ve celebrated our end of season with a fantastic party – all generations were present!
Masters will be hard at work over the summer showing hounds, meeting people and sorting out land for the meet list.
If you’d like to find out more about which shows we’ll be attending, please email:
I have always felt strongly about animal welfare and joined the LACS in the early 1970s.
That moved me into hunt sabotage and in 1979 I went onto the LACS committee, starting to work for them the following year.
In 1988, I became the LACS executive director, but by the time I left in 1995,
I had become disillusioned with the view that a ban on hunting with hounds would actually improve animal welfare.
During my time at LACS I had always wanted to experience hunting, rather than sit behind a desk and write propaganda.
That not only gave me a better insight into hunting, but also showed me the alternatives.
Since leaving I have worked with the Countryside Alliance, the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management and numerous individuals who have greatly improved my understanding of hunting with hounds and other dogs.
I believe the argument for hunting has never been stronger.
I argue for repeal of the Hunting Act, but for it to be replaced with a new law that would address genuine cruelty, while allowing necessary wildlife management – and hunting fits perfectly into that process.
Many thanks to all our supporters for coming along to our annual dinner. Superb food was catered by the hard-working beagle ladies and some much-needed funds were raised for the pack. Guest speaker, Jim Barrington former director of LACS (League for Cruel Sports) and now countryside champion kindly agreed to speak about his belief in safe, respectful and natural wildlife management.
Please click here to read more about Jim Barrington.
Each year, new hounds need to be sent out from kennels to people who kindly agree to ‘puppy walk’ them.
This involves a stage of development in which the hounds should become familiar with walking on a lead, traffic, road awareness, other people and animals, farm stock and general socialisation skills.
It is up to the puppy walkers how much time they put in to preparing the hounds, but generally, the more time is spent with them, the more responsive the hounds are upon returning to kennels.
In the following pages, a staff member relates the second time she puppy walked to two beagles, Madcap and Mayfly.
Please click here.
We breed all our own beagles. When our pups are eight weeks’ old they go out in pairs to puppy walkers. These are families who kindly look after them until they are mature enough to come back to kennels with the rest of the pack. Looking after any youngster can be hard work, but should also be rewarding. The following is a first-hand account from a new puppy walker. In it, she relates the highs (and lows) of looking after two restless hounds!
The new show ring at Peterborough may have been an improvement from previous years, but the kennelling arrangements led a lot to be desired. Certainly, when allocating kennels to the various packs, the organisers underestimated the tenacity of a Hunsley Beacon Beagle to escape. This photo caught the attention of the Countryside Alliance who posted it on Facebook. Despite the best efforts of our masters, the pack made the hole bigger and eventually managed their Great Escape!
Although the hunting season finishes in March, hunting staff and supporters are kept busy throughout the summer. The first big event is the annual Puppy Show. This gives everyone a chance to see last year’s pups – the new hounds which will come hunting with us in September. It is also an opportunity to thank the puppy walkers who do such a valuable job. This year the rain threatened to ruin the show, and everyone had to run for cover when a torrential shower passed over the show-ring just before we got started. Thankfully this was short lived and we were able to start the show – albeit with part of the show-ring submerged!
Another task is the annual hound shows. This year we have shown our hounds at Farndale, Yorkshire Show, and the Peterborough Festival of Hunting. Against some tough competition we have won some rosettes; but the highlight had to be to win Best Bitch for Peaceful in the restricted class at Peterborough (the restricted class is for packs who haven’t won a class in the last 3 years). Well done Peaceful! Our final hound show will be Rydal in August.
Finally, we like to take the pack out to country shows in our area. It is a great way for the public to see us dressed up in our uniforms and cuddle the hounds. So far we have been to Winterton and Bishop Wilton Shows. Next week we will go to Dunnington (26 July) and we be at the Driffield Game Fair for two days (23 and 24 August).
With hound exercise every Saturday morning, before we know it, hunting season will be with us again!
One of our duties as a pack affiliated with the Association of Masters of Beagles and Harriers is to return a hare count each year. Quite simply, this involves counting all the hares we see on each afternoon that we are out. Walking across the same fields, year after year, we are in a great position to assess the hare populations across our country. The fact is that you can’t begin to get an accurate hare count without walking across the fields. Hares sit very still and often only move when you almost tread on them.
This valuable information is passed onto people working on hare conservation. Hare populations in East Yorkshire have always been high. A question that many might ask is, have the recent series of harsh winters had any effect on populations? Well, we are only a month and a half into our season, but if the counts from the last two meets are anything to go by, the hare numbers appear to be in rude health.